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Ralph Towner/Wolfgang Muthspiel/Slava Grigoryan: Travel Guide

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On a percentage basis, the ECM catalog does not contain that many guitar players. Yet the ringing of a guitar, resonant in free air, has long been a signature element of the ECM sound. Pat Metheny. John Abercrombie. Bill Frisell. Terje Rypdal. Egberto Gismonti. And, since 1972, Ralph Towner.

Two names new to the ECM roster are Wolfgang Muthspiel of Austria and Slava Grigoryan of Kazakhstan by way of Australia. Travel Guide is a three-piece guitar choir. Driftwood is a unique iteration of the guitar/bass/drums trio. Because Towner’s gifts as a poet and conjurer are well known, and because Grigoryan’s role on Travel Guide is third among equals, the news here is 49-year-old Muthspiel. He has been under the radar on the transatlantic jazz scene for two decades. With these two breakout albums, he enters the first echelon of current jazz guitarists.

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